Meeks hopes for federal indictment in Garner’s death

By Juan Soto

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) said Friday the video footage of the Eric Garner case along with the medical examiner’s ruling the death of the Staten Island man was a homicide “is enough for an indictment.”

Meeks said his constituents have flooded his office with emails, calls and social media messages expressing outrage about the grand jury’s decision to clear the police officer involved in Garner’s death of any criminal charges.

“They are upset,” Meeks said. “They are in disbelief. Many went to the protests in the city to express how they feel.”

The footage shows several officers wrestling Garner to the pavement during his arrest on charges of selling single cigarettes. Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo can be seen putting Garner into a chokehold as the heavyset suspect cries out “I can’t breathe.”

The city medical examiner attributed Garner’s death to excessive force applied during the chokehold and classified his death as a homicide.

The congressman said he wants to see “all the evidence, all the transcripts” of the grand jury investigation. “I have to question the conduct of the [Staten Island] district attorney in this case,” said Meeks, referring to Daniel Donovan.

The lawmaker was glad the Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation into Garner’s death. It will be headed up by Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District in Brooklyn, who is President Obama’s nominee for attorney general to replace Eric Holder.

“There is a lot of evidence to show the civil rights of Mr. Garner were violated,” Meeks said.

He added, “I think and hope the attorney general will, in fact, indict the officer for violating Mr. Garner’s civil rights.”

DRUM, the South Asian Organizing Center, planned a SpeakOut in Jackson Heights Friday night for immigrants, youth and residents in light of the grand jury’s decision not to indict Pantaleo.